BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie guard quartet share this week’s honor

With four guards capable of leading them in scoring on a given night, the Wylie Lady Bulldogs are blessed with a diverse offensive attack. 

But that level of balance and unselfishness does come with one small downside. When it comes time to recognize those players for their accomplishments, it can be hard to differentiate between them and determine which is most deserving of being honored.

So this week, we abdicate that duty and honor all four — seniors Morgan Travis, Emma Melton and Makinlee Bacon and sophomore Caroline Steadman — as our Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the week ending Jan. 23.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS 2020 MAX EFFORT TEAM: The hardest-working volleyball players in the Big Country

Our All-Big Country Preps Volleyball team, released today, is in place to honor those who achieved the most on-court success in 2020. It is off the court, however, where character, grit and work ethic are often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Max Effort Team that we wish to honor those players who were the hardest-working, best teammates in the area this fall. 

This team isn’t about who the best volleyball players were.

The Max Effort team honors hustle, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches wish every player had.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned sweeps Ballinger as boys rally for OT win

TUSCOLA — The Jim Ned boys basketball team didn’t take a lead on Ballinger until early in the fourth quarter on Friday night at Bill Thornton Arena, and then was forced into overtime, but came away with a key 51-47 win in District 6-3A action.

Kaden Davis led a trio of Indians in double-digits with 15 points, while Xavier Wishert and Ben Eshelman added 14 and 13, respectively.

Jonathan Delgado had a game-high 29 points for the Bearcats, who went 0-for-4 from the free-throw line in the game.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Wylie boys score key district win at Lubbock Monterey

LUBBOCK — Needing an upset win over District 4-5A co-leader Lubbock Monterey to avoid a 1-3 start to league play, the Wylie boys basketball team did exactly what it needed to Friday in a 53-42 win.

The Bulldogs, who were coming off a lopsided loss to crosstown rival Cooper, overcame a slow offensive start hand the Plainsmen (12-9, 3-1) their first district loss and stay within a game of Monterey, Cooper and Lubbock Cooper for the 4-5A lead.

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GAME STORY: Hot-shooting Wylie girls blast Lubbock Monterey 56-29

With Lubbock Monterey’s zone defense taking away the paint Friday, the Wylie girls basketball team took to the skies and found success from long distance, knocking down 12 3-pointers in a 56-29 win at Bulldog Gym.

The Lady Bulldogs, who edged the Lady Plainsmen 48-45 on Jan. 5 in Lubbock, had no had no such trouble with Monterey the second go-round, outscoring the visitors 32-12 in the second half to turn a seven-point game at halftime into a blowout.

Five of Wylie’s seven scorers hit at least one 3, led by sophomore Caroline Steadman, who made four of her five triples in the second half to finish with a team-high 15 points.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Abilene High boys bounce back with win at Midland Lee

MIDLAND — The Abilene High boys basketball team shook off Friday’s loss to Odessa Permian to get back in the win column Tuesday, beating Midland Lee 56-42 to improve to 15-4 on the season and 4-2 in District 2-6A play.

The Eagles got off to a slow start, falling behind 11-8 after the opening quarter, but bounced back to take a 24-20 lead by halftime. After adding three more points to its lead with an 11-8 run through the third period, AHS put the game away in the fourth, outpacing Lee 21-14 for the frame.

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GAME STORY: Garcia, big third quarter fuel Cooper boys past Wylie

Trailing Wylie 15-13 after a quarter on Tuesday, the Cooper boys basketball team outscored the Bulldogs 45-23 over the middle two periods to pull away for a 76-64 home win over its crosstown district rival.

The Cougars, who improved to 12-4 overall  with the win, built  a 37-30 lead by halftime before using a 21-8 run through the third quarter to push their lead to 20 by the start of the fourth.

Noah Garcia led the effort for the home team, dropping 26 points to keep his Cougars perfect in District 4-5A play at 3-0.

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GAME STORY: Sweetwater girls rally in fourth for win over Big Spring

SWEETWATER — Both the Sweetwater and Big Spring girls basketball teams went into Tuesday night’s game tied for fourth place in District 3-4A and looking to get a leg up on the other one to close out the first half of district play.

Jazzy Villa made a pair of free throws coming off a technical foul between the third and fourth quarters to put the Lady Mustangs ahead and Sweetwater used a dominant defensive effort in the closing minutes to pick up a 51-47 win at Mustang Gym.

Sisters Kenzi and Kya Mitchell had 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Villa added 10 as the Lady Mustangs improved to 9-12 this year and 2-3 in District 3-4A action.

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GAME STORY: Wylie girls rally past Cooper to close first half of district at 4-1

Fueled by an eight-point fourth quarter by Caroline Steadman and a solid defensive effort all around, the Wylie girls basketball team outscored Cooper 12-4 over the final eight minutes Tuesday to rally past the Lady Cougars 45-41 at Bulldog Gym.

Steadman, a sophomore guard, did all of her scoring during that stretch to help the Lady Bulldogs close out the first half of District 4-5A play at 10-10 overall and 4-1 in league action.

Cooper, which had trailed 23-20 at halftime, used a 17-11 run through the third quarter to take a 37-34 lead into the final period. But the Lady Bulldogs held the Lady Coogs to a single field goal in the fourth quarter to protect their home court against their crosstown rival.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cisco’s Edgar is the top dog

The Cisco Loboes may have only played one game last week (beating Hamlin 76-41). But senior guard Layne Edgar made the most of it.

Scoring 39 points with a 5-of-9 tally from 3-point range, he narrowly missed a monstrous triple-double, finishing with nine rebounds and eight assists.

In his spare time, he collected six steals in a truly dominating performance worthy of our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for the Week ending Jan. 16.

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Evan Ren’s 2020 True Grit Team: The toughest, hardest-working players in the Big Country!

Most of us know a football player who lives in the weight room, who’s always dependable and who always does what his coaches ask him. He always puts the team first. He’s early to arrive and late to leave. And he seldom needs direction because he always pays attention. 

You know the type. But you seldom hear about them, since there is no specific category to put them in and the media doesn’t recognize these qualities.

This is the guy who always sets a good example. He doesn’t complain and above all else, is tough mentally and physically. He’s not necessarily the best player on his team (though some are). But he’s definitely the guy who gets the most out of whatever talent he was born with.

Welcome to the 2020 “True Grit” team — the one place in the Big Country where guys who fall into this category are recognized for it.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Wylie boys, girls sweep Lubbock High

The Wylie boys basketball team evened its District 4-5A record at 1-1 on Tuesday, blasting Lubbock High 50-27 at Bulldog Gym.

Trailing 12-11 after the first quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Westerners 39-15 the rest of the way to improve to 5-8 overall.

Wylie took a 24-19 lead into halftime after outpacing Lubbock High 13-7 in the second quarter, before using a 15-2 run through the third quarter to take control for good.

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GAME STORY: Odessa Permian starts fast, shuts down Abilene High

Cold shooting nights have been rare for the Abilene High boys basketball team during Justin Reese’s three years leading his alma mater, but the Eagles had one Friday night.

AHS was held to just 22 points through the first three quarters as the Panthers rolled to a 64-48 District 2-6A win at Eagle Gym.

The poor shooting night resulted in Reese doing something that he had only done one other time in his career as a head coach — calling for intentional fouls in the third quarter to send Permian to the free-throw line to try and get his team back in the game.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Cooper boys open district play with win over Lubbock High

LUBBOCK — The Cooper boys basketball team kicked off District 4-5A play with a victory Tuesday, outscoring Lubbock High in each of the first three quarters of a 44-31 road victory.

Leading 13-7 after a quarter, the Cougars (10-4 overall, 1-0 in district) used a 13-6 run through the second quarter to take a 26-13 advantage into halftime. The Coogs then outscored the Westerners 12-5 in the third quarter to all but put the game away.

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GAME STORY: McGee leads Abilene High boys past Central after being honored for milestone

On a night when he was honored for eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for his career, Abilene High’s Jalen McGee added a few more to that total in a 76-52 win over San Angelo Central on Tuesday at Eagle Gym.

The senior point guard, who hit that milestone Dec. 18 against Cooper, scored a game high-tying 17 points to fuel a wire-to-wire victory over the Bobcats in a key District 2-6A game.

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GAME STORY: Wylie girls come up just short in upset bid against No. 8 Lubbock Cooper

Leading No. 8 Lubbock Cooper 49-45 with 2:20 remaining Tuesday at Bulldog Gym, the Wylie girls basketball looked poised to score a big upset win and take sole possession of first place in the District 4-5A race.

Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, they wouldn’t score again the rest of the way, allowing a Hannah Zientek 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining to serve as the winning points in a 52-49 loss. 

After watching the Lady Pirates tie the score with about a minute and a half to play, Wylie had a couple of opportunities to regain the lead and put additional pressure on the visitors. But the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t turn those possessions into points, and a banked-in 3 by Zientek, a junior post player, with 8.7 seconds remaining left coach Amy Powell’s squad on the losing end of a game that was tightly contested throughout.

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GAME STORY: Anson sweeps Hawley in District 10-2A action

ANSON — Anson’s Gavin Williams led a trio of players in double figures with 19 points as the Tigers picked up a 56-42 win over Hawley in District 10-2A play Tuesday night at Tiger Gym .

Dylyn Pyle had 16 points, while Lane Dollar added 13 as Anson moved to 3-1 in district action with the victory.

Williams and Pyle combined for 16 points in the third quarter as the Tigers turned a two-point halftime lead into a 45-28 advantage.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dublin’s Escobar takes the top spot

He’s been consistently pouring in points since the season’s outset. So it’s not a surprise that Dublin senior guard Daniel Escobar has taken our first Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for 2021. 

Helping the Lions to wins over Eastland (69-42) and Millsap (79-43), Escobar finished the week with a total of 63 points through the two games, including a 38-point night in the Eastland win. 

But scoring was only a portion of his overall contribution. 

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: McGee, Watts lead Eagles to blowout win at Midland High

MIDLAND — Jalen McGee scored 26 points and Nathan Watts added 20 to power the Abilene High boys basketball team to an 84-31 rout of  Midland High in a District 2-6A matchup Friday.

The Eagles (13-3 overall, 2-1 in district) led 33-21 at halftime, before outscoring the Bulldogs 27-10 in the third quarter and 24-0 in the fourth to pull way for the 53-point win.

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